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Indiana: Safe-Sex Education? Schools Say No

May 27, 2009

While Indiana school boards often mandate abstinence-only sex education, believing constituents favor it over a comprehensive approach, recent research does not support this presumption.

In a random survey of 504 rural Indiana adults, a majority of respondents said high schools should teach students how to correctly use condoms to prevent pregnancy and STDs. Seven out of 10 did not believe promoting condom use promotes premarital sex; 80 percent thought that teens who use condoms are responsible; and 90 percent want only medically accurate information taught in school-based sex education programs.

"Our research has indicated those that have been instructed about how to use condoms correctly make less mistakes, and so they're at less risk," said William Yarber, senior director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention at Indiana University. "We didn't ask, 'Should you talk about condoms?' We asked, 'Should schools talk about the correct use of condoms?'"

The research found that many schools do not address condom use at all, much less the proper use of condoms. But public opinion indicates they should, Yarber said. "To me, this is a fairly strong endorsement that young people should be talked to about how condoms should be used correctly," he said.

"I can assure you, if we started teaching our kids the proper way to use birth control, we would hear from our community, I'm sure," countered Keith Davis, Liberty-Perry Community School Board president.

Indiana ranks 30th among states for teen pregnancies in girls ages 15-19, with a rate of 43.5 per 1,000, according to the most recent statistics from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. State data from Planned Parenthood of Indiana show 31 teens become pregnant every day, of whom 10 are younger than 18.

Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Indiana, said instructing teens on safe sex can protect them from STDs and pregnancy. "Let's teach them to wait, but if they decide that's not what they're going to do, let's help them be safe," she said.

Back to other news for May 2009

Adapted from:
Star Press (Muncie)
05.17.2009; Oseye T. Boyd

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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